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UAE’s Financial Woes and Arab Spring Instability the Likely Causes for the Hold on Abu Dhabi Guggenheim

When Frank Gehry‘s Abu Dhabi Guggenheim was put on hold toward the end of October, it wasn’t for some obvious reason like in the spring, when the project was under fire for labor conditions. Instead, it was a bit more mysterious and sudden. One day things seemed to be moving along swimmingly and the next, its building contracts were recalled and everything just stopped. Now some additional information has come out that helps clear up the picture a bit. The Art Newspaper has filed this fascinating report on how the Guggenheim development wound up being affected by financial factors, with Abu Dhabi having to pick up a healthy dose of the slack from those other emirates who haven’t been faring as well once the bottom fell out of the economy (Dubai, anyone?). Add to that concerns over keeping its citizens happy as the rest of the area seems to be joining in on sweeping “Arab Spring” changes in leadership, and spending hundreds of millions to build a museum winds up seeming like the sort of thing that can be put on the backburner for awhile. However, given that the sorts of trials and tribulations encompassed in financial crises and surrounded by civil instability, how temporary that backburner will wind up being is anyone’s guess. It certainly seems as though, based on this report, Frank Gehry won’t be seeing his Guggenheim finished anytime soon.

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